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National

May 16, 2018

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DROs administered oath under Election Act 2017

PESHAWAR: For the first time in Pakistan’s history, judicial officers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and political agents serving in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) took oath as District Returning Officers (DROs) under the Election Act 2017 to discharge their duties in the upcoming general election without any fear or favour.

Provincial Election Commissioner Pir Maqbool Ahmad administered the oath to political agents and 25 District and Sessions Judges, who were nominated as DROs, to conduct election in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata.

The oath that was read said, “I will discharge my duties and perform my functions honestly to the best of my ability, faithfully, in accordance with the provisions of the Election Act, 2017 and the Election Rules 2017 and in accordance with directions of the Election Commission of Pakistan without any fear or favour, affection or ill-will and that I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct and decisions.”

Member Election Commission from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, retired Justice Irshad Qaiser, the Election Commission Additional Secretary Training, Zafar Iqbal Hussain, Director Election Shehzad Ahmad, Director Gender Affairs Muhammad Haroon Shinwari and others attended the oath-taking ceremony held at a hotel.

Talking to reporters after administering oath to the DROs, Provincial Election Commissioner Pir Maqbool Ahmad said the public looked to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for holding free, fair and transparent election.

To a question about rigging allegations by some political parties against the Returning Officers in the 2013 general election, he replied that reforms had been brought in the election laws for fair and transparent elections and administering oath to the DROs was one of the steps towards conducting fair polls.

He said the ECP had designed the Result Management System (RMS) to improve accuracy, efficiency and transparency of results tabulation process in the election.

He said the ECP and the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) had signed an agreement to prepare a Result Transmission System (RTS) for the general election.

The official said the new system would enable presiding officers to transmit result to the Returning Officers and Election Commission in real-time.

He stated that the ECP would decide within a few days whether or not to use these systems. “We have received election material for the upcoming polls,” he added.

In her address as chief guest at the oath-taking ceremony and one-day orientation for the DROs for conducting the general election, retired Justice Irshad Qaiser said it was the prime duty of ECP to conduct fair and transparent election.

“The DROs have to play an important role in the upcoming election as electoral reforms have been brought under the Election Act 2017, which gives more autonomy to the ECP,” she pointed out.

She explained that appointing judicial officers as DROs and Returning Officers under the Election Act 2017 was an important and significant step for holding fair and transparent election. He opined that it also signified public confidence in the judiciary.

The retired judge said that preparing polling stations’ lists and appointing polling staff would be carried out with the approval and supervision of the DROs. She said that monitoring law and order during the election would also be the duty of the DROs.

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